Cooking: A Shift in Attitude

Season’s Greetings, MOE Readers! Thank you for being here and following our blog. Both Econ-Mom and I have been very silent this year, except for our Facebook posts, thanks to the pandemic. We have been silent for different reasons, I think: Econ-Mom, because she can barely come up for air with her two young boys learning at home. (It is a lot harder with young children, so if you are there, too, please be forgiving of yourself.) Me, because I don’t know what to say most of the time. Each of you has been experiencing this year in totally different ways. I have not wanted to alienate any of our readers by striking the wrong tone. (This is largely why I do not write Christmas newsletters, either, by the way.)

As I have, however, recently developed a newfound enjoyment from a task I once detested – cooking – I thought I would share a little about how my feelings about cooking have evolved. This is not to encourage you to change your own feelings about cooking (if you have any strong feelings one way or the other) but to perhaps provide a little inspiration for approaching one of life’s tasks differently, as we continue to live out this pandemic.

I never cooked as a child or a teenager. I did not start cooking until I was in college, sharing a house with a handful of other young women. I was not the cook in the group. When I did cook, it was pretty awful. (I remember I tried to make my mother’s homemade soup one time. I don’t think anyone would eat it.) I actually brokered a deal that allowed the rest of my housemates to do all the cooking, and I did all the cleaning.

In my 20s, I rarely cooked. And if I did, it was usually a box of pasta and a jar of marinara. I once had a boyfriend admonish me for my failure to cook him a proper dinner. “Ummm….Excuse me? It is the 2000s, correct? Not the 1950s?”

When I got married, The Hub did most of the cooking initially, because I usually got home after he did. I did not start cooking until after SC1 was born, when I had more time on my hands during my extended maternity leave. I have dozens of funny “Law-Mom Learning to Cook” stories from that era. But I also started to get pretty good at it. So good, that when The Hub would take leftovers to the office for lunch, his co-workers envied the aromas emanating from his desk. “Your wife is a good cook!” they would tell him.

I even started a food blog (which unfortunatley was inadvertently lost years later — a long story).

The Hub and I also put on a LOT of weight those years.

Then I had SC2. That was the end of my “gourmet” cooking era. The 5:00PM witching hour (the two-year-old and the infant both crying) would find my dinners burning on the stove or in the oven. I started resorting to a lot of Domino’s delivery.

Then came an even crazier time: the Working Mom With Young Children Era. Just forget it. Forget it!

Those years are a big blur now. I don’t remember what I cooked. I don’t remember enjoying cooking, either. It was a chore. A task. A thing I needed to do. I think we rotated the same meals in our house for years. YEARS.

We ate a LOT of tacos.

Keep in mind that in addition to juggling work and kids’ activity schedules, we also manage(d) over half a dozen food allergies over here. I would flip through recipe books and just get angry. I couldn’t even muster the energy to be creative with substitutes.

Food was the enemy. And I was its prisoner. I couldn’t lose the baby weight. My youngest would only eat condiments. My eldest didn’t know what a vegetable was. And The Hub wasn’t much better with all his picky habits.

So, I just stopped caring as much. I put in the minimal effort needed to get us all fed and always put vegetables on the plate. I tried not to resent the endless hampster wheel of effort that home-cooking entails.

I’m not sure when my attitude about cooking and feeding my family shifted and changed this year. But I suspect it started with our virtual travel plans, which I wrote about in my last blog post. All I know is that, now, I plan my meals again each week. I search the internet for new recipes. I’ve been looking back in the old recipe book that I put together when SC1 was a baby and I was food-blogging. I get a major hit of dopamine every time I make something for the family that everyone likes!

And I use the time when I am chopping vegetables and doing dishes to pray. To think positive thoughts. I contemplate life. My life. The lives of those around me. It’s quiet, productive time.

My attitude has shifted. It’s no longer a chore. It’s something I enjoy doing. It’s my hobby. It’s “me time.” It’s rewarding. It’s an act of love each night. I am grateful for it.

I do not not know if this anecdote will help inspire you to reimagine a task in your own parenting life that you find distasteful. If it does not: just know you are not alone. There are probably millions of parents out there in whatever place you are currently inhabiting. May it give you hope that there will likely come a time where the space you are in will change. Nothing is permanent. “This, too, shall pass.”

Peace. And Happy Holidays! -Law-Mom

P.S. Here are a few new meals that I’ve added to the family meal rotation “repertoire”:

Black Bean Enchiladas

Cabbage Pie

Lettuce Wraps

Sonoran Enchiladas

Instapot Vegetarian Pasta

Allergy Safe Pad Thai

Balsamic Chicken Thighs & Roasted Vegetables

If you would like any of these recipes, please comment below, and I will post them! Happy Cooking!

Econ-Mom: This post made me smile, because I relate to a lot of it! I was also not much of a cook and ate a lot of pasta (mainly mac and cheese) before having kids. I also fondly remember the BRIEF period while DH and I were DINKS (dual income no kids) and we went out to eat a lot! One of the highlights of my epicurean life was when we were dating and DH surprised me with a dinner at The Herb Farm.

When Tuffy was born, I had a newfound need to make most of my meals at home! Luckily, I had a couple friends who came to help me with the baby and literally held a cooking intervention for me! It was like having a personal, in-home cooking class, and it really set me on a better path. But, just like Law-Mom, when baby #2 came along, anything time-intensive went out the window. At this point, I would say that I’m fine with cooking, because I like eating food that tastes good (if I asked DH to ‘cook’ we’d be eating tortilla chips with melted cheese every night). But I might just try to have a more contemplative mindset tonight when I make dinner. Thanks for this suggestion, Law-Mom!

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